Mel's Blog

January 2010 Market News #9

January 28th, 2010 3:40 PM by Mel Samick

Thursday's bond market has opened in negative territory as yesterday's afternoon weakness continues into this morning's trading. The stock markets are showing noticeable losses with the Dow down 116 points and the Nasdaq down 42 points. The bond market is currently up 9/32.

December's Durable Goods Orders was posted this morning, giving us an indication of manufacturing sector strength. It revealed a 0.3% increase in new orders for big-ticket products, which fell well short of analysts' forecasts of a 2.0% increase. However, if more volatile transportation related orders are excluded, such as orders for new aircraft, we saw a larger than expected increase of 0.9 %. Therefore, this report basically gives us mixed results, but should be considered slightly negative for bonds and mortgage rates.

In a bit of positive news, the Labor Department reported that 470,000 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed last week. This was a decline from the previous week, but was much higher than the 450,000 that were expected. This is good news for bonds but its impact on trading and mortgage pricing is minimal because it is not considered to be very important news due to its single-week tracking.

There are three relevant reports scheduled for release tomorrow morning. The first is arguably the single most important report that we see regularly. The initial reading of the 4th Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be posted early tomorrow. This data is so important because it is considered to be the best measurement of economic growth. The GDP itself is the total sum of all goods and services produced in the United States. Its' results usually have a major impact on the financial markets and can cause significant changes in mortgage rates. There are three readings to each quarter's activity, each released approximately one month apart. The first, which usually carries the most volatility, is expected to be an increase of 4.6%. A noticeably weaker reading would be great news for the bond market, questioning the pace of the economic recovery. That would likely fuel stock selling and a rally in bonds that would push mortgage rates lower tomorrow morning.

The 4th Quarter Employment Cost Index (ECI) is also scheduled for release early tomorrow morning. It measures employer costs for employee wages and benefits, giving us an indication of the threat of wage inflation. Current forecasts are showing an increase of 0.4%. A lower than expected reading would be favorable to bonds and mortgage rates, but the GDP reading will be the biggest influence on trading and rates tomorrow.

The last report of the week is the revised reading to the University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment. This index measures consumer confidence, which is thought to indicate consumer willingness to spend. I don't see this data having much of an impact on the markets or mortgage rates due to the importance of the employment index and GDP figures. It is expected to show a slight upward revision from the previous estimate of 72.8.


Posted in:General
Posted by Mel Samick on January 28th, 2010 3:40 PM



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